Helen Irene Russell, age 98, passed away on March 14, 2017 in Portland, Oregon. Helen was born in Everson, WA on April 27, 1918 to Halvor and Edna Askland, and lived on their small dairy farm with her brother Harold and sister Mildred. The Askland family worshiped at the nearby Methodist Church every Sunday, and faithfully served the needs of their neighbors, friends and relatives.
After graduating from Sumas-Nooksack High School in 1936, Helen completed Business College in Seattle and began a 40 year career as an executive secretary for several major companies, including Pacific Marine Schwabacher and NC Machinery.
Helen married Bernard (Bob) Ford in 1939, and they were blessed with two children, Linda and Gary. When Bob died unexpectedly in 1959, at the age of 47, Helen never faltered from the huge responsibility of raising her children alone. She truly was, to the end of her remarkable life, “ the wind beneath their wings” for her family.
With these challenges behind her, Helen remarried in 1977 to Norman Russell. They lived a wonderful 32 years together, enjoying their winters golfing in Yuma, Arizona and their summers in Bellevue, WA with family and friends. When Norm’s health began to fail in 2009, they relocated to Portland, living only one mile from Linda. Norm passed away that September.
Helen”s Christian faith sustained her to the very end of her life. She leaves her loved ones with a legacy of faith, courage, hard work, perseverance, modesty, love and laughter.
Helen is survived by her two children, Linda Williams (David), Gary Ford (Gloria), four grandchildren: Matthew, Emily, Timothy and Evan, and six great-grandchildren: Tyler, Zackary, Atalya, Colby, Elika and Rhys Gilbert. All will deeply miss her.
A graveside memorial service will be held at Acacia Memorial Park in Seattle at 2:30 PM on Sunday, April 23, 2017, followed by a reception in the Acacia Garden Room.